I have done all sorts of things with writing failure; experienced it, avoided it, ignored it, buried it deep inside of me, tweeted about it, written blog posts about it, moaned about it, cried about it, drank too much wine whilst thinking about it, got down about it, laughed about it, had sleepless nights about it, written lengthy emails to writing friends about it and filled out hundreds of diary pages on it.
Recently I have started to see it in a new light. Once you remove the emotion from a writing failure; literary rejection, a shelved draft novel, a piece of flash fiction which only attracts negative comments, a failed literary course assessment, negative feedback which breaks your heart, blog posts which don’t set the online world on fire, a podcast which nobody listens to and a beloved main character who beta readers dislike, you will start to see that beautiful things start to sprout and grow out of it.
Here are 10 which have come from my writing failures:
- Friendship. Some of my best creative friendships have started with a supportive blog comment or an encouraging tweet post a writing failure. The online writing community will give you a reassuring and warm virtual hug if you reach out and share your suffering.
- New Characters. I have created some great new characters, whilst trying to clear up the literary mess, after a writing failure. The universe feels bad for your story not working out and sends you a gift, in my case a wild and reckless main character who would bring me so much joy that I would end up forgetting all about my creative pain.
- New Direction. Sometimes writing failures have pointed me in a new and interesting direction. I love this because my ‘I know best’ writing mindset would have prevented me from pursuing new directions.
- Knowledge. I have acquired new knowledge about writing with each failure. The universe knows I struggle to read writing craft books and take the advice of others, so it makes me learn new stuff through failure. *Sigh* The universe is so thoughtful…
- New Stories. Whilst sifting through the wreckage of shelved stories I have discovered new story ideas, buried deep. Never delete or throw anything away when it comes to writing.
- Humour. The best way to get over writing failure is to find some funny aspect about the situation and laugh it out with writer friends. I think laughing helps the creative healing process.
- Perseverance. I have learnt that you can’t buy this on Amazon. It’s something you have to cultivate yourself. Overcoming writing failures is one way of growing your own batch of this stuff.
- Understanding. I can now relate to writers who struggle to promote their work. Before this I didn’t get why writers struggled with self promotion. “For goodness sake just promote it,” I used to say, “how hard can selling your work be?” You have to hand it to that sneaky universe, making me create a fictional podcast and then urging me to promote it. I had to fail and fail again at this because I would not have understood how much of a challenge self promotion is.
- Patience. A writing journey cannot be rushed. Books need time to stew inside your head, in notebooks and on your laptop screen. Writing failures have taught me to slow down and think stuff through.
- The chance to do something again. We are so lucky as we get the chance to rewrite, modify and adjust our stories. Can you imagine if we were only allowed one attempt?
I was going to add no.11 ‘Writing failure gives you a damn good reason to eat comfort food, whilst wrapped in a warm blanket on the sofa, watching NetFlix and chucking paper missiles at the photo of a successful author.’ But some of you might not see this as a beautiful thing 🙂
Have a great day writers!